For the purpose of clarity I will state right off the bat this article is an overview and response to Prof Johnathon Portes own response to the UKs Racial Inequality report better known as, the Sewell Commission.
The article by Portes was featured in The Byline Times and can be found here using the link below.
From here on is my humble summary of Portes’ article, providing you with the key issues he raises. Though, I strongly recommend reading the article for yourself as he is the true expert here.
1. The author..
Portes once worked as chief economist at the department of Work & Pensions. He currently holds a place as Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the School of Politics and Economics at King’s College London. So he knows a thing or two about policy, academia and putting together a research project.
2. Racial inequalities in the UK
Portes’ position is clear, the UK does have a considerable issue with institutionalised racism. Research he carried out as chief econimist at the dpmt for W&P showed a considerable racial bias against non-white appearing applicants to jobs. Just one of the many ways that the UK IS institutionally racist.
What’s more, nearly all research evidence since Portes’ investigation has found significantly poorer outcomes for racial/ethnic minority individuals.
From this body of evidence, the writing is on the wall when it comes to the UK’s racism.
3. Placating to the ill-informed masses
As Portes outlines the response to the report were…mixed. Right-wing mouthpiece Matthew Goodwin was outlined by Portes as ‘being left high and dry’ by writer of the report Samir Shah when he announced Britain’s institutions were racism free.
This comes as no surprise as the right have long awaited a report such as this to confirm what they always wanted to hear. What’s shocking, or at least amusing, is to see the very writers of the report quashing the assumptions that the bias and twisted report leads its readers to believe.
4. You can’t see much with your head buried in the sand
Portes calls out a number of dodgy and underhanded research techniques used by the report in its efforts to skew and twist the undesired truth.
Methodologically, the report breaks down poorer outcomes for racial/ethnic minority groups into ‘explained’ and ‘unexplained’ categories. The first, includes other grouping variables such as gender, socio economic background etc. The second puts these outcomes down as a mystery. Using this lens to view data, one cannot possibly find evidence for racism. As it skirts around the concept entirely.
Yet, as Portes outlines, one cannot just remove the word ‘racism’ from the report and remove all evidence of racial inequality within society and the data in question.
To get around this issue, the report used some dodgy statistics techniques. Anyone that has been taught statistics in the social sciences has been well versed on what to do and what not to do when it comes to ensuring data is not bias or misleading. Yet this report throws that rule book out of the window and uses any method it likes to erase the concept of racism.
As Portes states, using such techniques makes it impossible to find any evidence for racial inequality as by their own efforts all trace is removed, renamed or obscured.
5. Response from the experts
Portes is not alone in his outrage, those within and outside academia and research share his distain for the report.
Though it is important to acknowledge, and Portes makes a point of mentioning this, that there is a vast amount of experts condemning this report for it’s dodgy methods and even more dodgy morals.
6. Why is it so dodgy?
The sheer dodgyiness of the report is put down to an attempt to stem the unwanted tide of ‘woke’ voices in 2021. The uptake in so-called ‘wokeism’ is something the Torys need like they need a knife to the gut. The simplest solution of course is to remove objectivity and honesty from the equation and get reports written that support your position, ‘no there’s no problem here’.
7. My thoughts
From Portes critique it’s clear that when this report was undertaken the question was not ‘is Britain institutionally racist’, or ‘how institutionally racist is the UK?’. The question was, ‘how can we hide any trace of racism?’. This sweep-under-the-rug technique is straight out of the Tory handbook.
They removed the word racism from the equation and then claimed that no trace of racism could be found. What we need is a new report. A truly independent report. And what we need most of all is action!
Action to acknowledge and address the racial inequalities across the UK, the time for ignoring this issue is over.